||Mt. Massive 2006|
Date: July 29, 2006
Climbers: Jody & Art
Info: We started our assault on Mt. Massive from the upper trail head, Southwest route, nonstandard was an understatement!! It was a very pleasant day and nice hike with a lot of great scenery, wild flowers, streams and even a couple of mountain goats on the East Ridge. Coming up through the meadow the trail became indistinct although there were enough cairns to mark the way. Difficulty began as we started up the ridge. This is rated as a class 2 climb; I have to seriously doubt this rating. Started out in a large boulder field which was not bad, however, at about one third of the way up the ridge boulders were fewer and the talus began. For about the last two third's of the climb we felt quite fortunate to have one solid hold whether foot or hand, much of the climb involved scrambling from one boulder to the next with no certainty the next would be adequately secure to hold our weight. There were several areas, for both of us, where a slip or misstep could have resulted in a fall of undetermined length, couldn't see the bottom as it dropped pretty straight off. Jody got into a small couloir, very steep and unstable, had to make a leap of faith to cross and get to more secure footing. I ended up on the other side of the couloir and had to make a bit of a leap with minimal foot holds to reach the top of a small knife edge ridge, nothing below me. We made it to the top of the ridge at about 1:30pm and chose not to risk our lives going back the way we came.
Our descent was on the front side of the mountain, from the small shoulder easily visible from Leadville. We immediately found ourselves in a field of loose talus and boulders. From the top we thought we spotted a trail and anticipated it would lead to the standard trail off the mountain. Turned out the trail we spotted was game trail. We hiked down to almost tree line and determined our only chance to get off the mountain was to climb over the ridge and look for the trail. As we continued to look for the trail we came across about 50-60 head of elk and many, many willows. From about 3:30pm to 5:30pm we were both assuming we'd be spending a cold night out in the wilderness, however, at about 5:30pm Artman noticed what appeared to be a trail below us and on our descent to it came across the standard route off Mt. Massive. Thirteen hours after starting off and in a cold drizzle we reached the truck battered and bruised but very happy to be off and headed back to the Alps Motel. We had a pretty good golf game the next day on Mt. Massive course but bagged our original plan to climb Missouri on Monday.
*Special thanks to Art for the Info: section story.*